SEPARATION by Dan Franck


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 The thinly-charactered story of a marriage breaking up: a large bestseller in France. Nobody has names in this trendily streamlined narrative, but after seven years of marriage and two kids (known as ``the First Child'' and ``the Baby''), the wife announces to the husband that ``I've fallen in love with another man.'' The following ninety-five days are an extended kind of hell for the husband (a writer) as first he suffers deeply, then tries to win back the wife's affection (she claims she still loves him, although sex is a vanished thing), then swings into a high rage, then suffers still more deeply at the prospect of losing his children (``he goes out, drinks, smokes, snorts lines, smokes joints, screws. but every morning, inexorably, he comes back to his children's home''), then finally survives the separation, the wife getting the children. That there may well have been feeling, suffering, or pain in the origins of this tale isn't made the more compellingly believable by skin-deep people, disaster-struck metaphor (``He is on the bridge crossing the Seine when all at once the waters of the river and the waters of his tears collide''; ``He was completely unable to reconcile the external fires with the red lantern in whose glow he was wasting away''), or clumsy overreaching (``Fuck this society, he thought''). The translation can be uncommanding (``She wants to force me to look reality in the face''), though great care, admittedly, is taken with accuracy: ``His first film and his latest book were released at the same time, one in the theaters, the other in the bookstores.'' Says the publisher: ``350,000 copies sold in France. Soon to be published in eleven other countries.'' Zut!

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-42453-9
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1993


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